Lewis Diuguid

January 30, 2014

State gets earful at Kansas City hearing on unaccredited school districts

Don’t expect any consensus on what to do about Kansas City Public School.

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has complained in the past that there appeared to be no consensus over what to do with Kansas City Public Schools.

She certainly got to hear more of that Wednesday night at Paseo Academy, where hundreds of parents, educators and community supporters packed the auditorium for the first of four public hearings on pending state action on unaccredited school districts in Missouri. Kansas City Public Schools lost its provisional accreditation in 2012.

It since has earned enough points to regain the status, but the state board of education following Nicastro’s recommendation blocked change. The district is at risk now of students possibly transferring to surrounding accredited districts and sticking Kansas City schools with the bill.

The audience heard information on six plans to help struggling school districts. Then more than a dozen people got a chance to share their concerns.

Most supported the Kansas City school board, Superintendent Stephen Green and their efforts to bring back stability and academic excellence. Speakers’ comments were punctuated by loud applause and cheers.

Kansas City Councilman John Sharp, a former Missouri legislator, criticized the state for inadequately funding public schools. He said people and a diversity of groups in Kansas City are getting involved in helping the schools like never before.

State intervention and student transfers would create a “lose-lose” proposition for the community, Sharp said.

He’s right.

The other state hearings are Feb. 4 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Feb. 6 in Sikeston and Feb. 6 in Springfield. People also can give feedback online until Feb. 7 at www.dese.mo.gov/divimprove/sia/msip/unaccrediteddistricts.html.

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